Around 2 million people are affected by food allergy in the UK.The number of people with food allergies is increasing each year, particularly amongst children and teenagers. Food allergy causes around 10 deaths per year in the UK. Significantly, nearly all (90%) of these occur when the person eats food away from home.
There are also about 1,500 asthma deaths each year, some of which are triggered by food allergy. The most serious reactions that occur are normally triggered by an ingredient that is knowingly added to the food, but its presence was not made clear to the consumer. The food choices of allergic individuals are dictated by their allergy. For people with a food allergy, it is essential that they know exactly what is in each dish.
Did you know?
- 5-8 % of children and 1-2 % of adults have a proven food allergy
- Up to 1 in 55 children have a peanut allergy
- An estimated 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease – an autoimmune condition where people have an adverse reaction to gluten- it is thought that this number may be much higher as many people remain undiagnosed
- UK hospital admissions for children with food allergies have increased by 700% since 1990
- Around 10 people die each year from allergic reactions in the UK from undeclared allergens in foods most of these incidents occur when people are eating away from their own home
People with food allergies are well protected by current food law. An EU regulation came into force in December 2014 making it mandatory for all food businesses to provide allergen information to customers.
Although in theory we can be allergic to any food, some foods are more likely to trigger severe life threatening reactions than others.
The 14 allergens listed in the regulation have been selected as they are those most likely to cause severe reactions amongst those living in Europe.
The 14 allergens are:
- Cereals containing gluten
- Tree nuts
- Sulphur Dioxide